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THE ENVIRONMENT FOUNDATION RELEASES $55,000 IN GRANTS TO PROTECT WESTERN LANDS AND LIFESTYLES FROM GAS DRILLING IMPACTS

Aspen/Snowmass, Colo., -- In April, the Environment Foundation released four grants totaling $55,000 to Wilderness Workshop, Thompson Divide Coalition, Western Environmental Law Center and High Country News. These grants represent a continued commitment of the foundation to support responsible oil/gas development. Wilderness Workshop will continue its work to ensure all leasing decisions properly account for public input and existing regulations are followed. The Thompson Divide Coalition will work to negotiate the retirement of existing oil and gas leases in the Divide to preserve the area for existing surface uses. Western Environmental Law Center will provide the legal advice for North Fork Valley residents working to ensure the agricultural values of the valley are not overrun by short term energy extraction efforts. And, High Country News will report on the human, social and environmental impacts of drilling throughout the mountain west.   

In addition the foundation released four grants totaling $25,000 dedicated to maintaining trail/open space infrastructure throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. From the cross country trails of Spring Gulch to the high alpine trails on North Maroon and Capitol peaks Environment Foundation grants are supporting organizations like Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, Aspen Valley Land Trust and Mount Sopris Nordic Council.

“The Environment Foundation’s grant enables Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers to schedule and complete three volunteer projects on our 2014 schedule – the Mt Sopris and East Elk Creek Trails and the Crooked Creek wetland restoration,” says David Hamilton, Executive Director.

“Again and again our members have voiced their support for smart, sensible energy policy valuing the land that surrounds their homes for its aesthetic qualities rather than as a resource to be plundered,” said Matthew Hamilton, Executive Director, Environment Foundation. “The foundation’s recent grants reaffirm this commitment to land conservation that respects present and future uses.”

“This is a big boost for our ongoing efforts to protect the Thompson Divide and the livelihoods this land supports,” says Zane Kessler, Thompson Divide Coalition Executive Director. “The Environment Foundation has shown, once again, its commitment to environmental and economic sustainability in the region.”

"This is a pivotal year for the public lands on the western end of the Roaring Fork Valley. Citizen engagement and activism has reached a crescendo and the Environment Foundation's funding is directly supportive of this community effort,” says Wilderness Workshop Executive Director, Sloan Shoemaker. “This generous support will allow us to continue our all hands on deck response to protect our backcountry and associated sustainable uses that support our local economy against the boom/bust cycles of the gas industry."

In total, the Foundation donated more than $114,000 to 14 projects in the spring of 2014. The foundation is funded by donations from Aspen Skiing Company employees and guests, which are then matched in whole or in part by Aspen Community Foundation, the Aspen Skiing Company Family Fund, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Coca-Cola. Since its inception the foundation has supported 425 projects with $2.5 million in grants.

Spring 2014 funded projects represent a broad range of environmental issues facing the Roaring Fork Valley:

Aspen Center for Environmental Studies: General Operating Support - $7,500

Aspen Valley Land Trust: Aerial imagery monitoring program - $7,000

Basalt Thrift Store: Store Lighting - $5,100

Colorado Fourteeners Initiative: Elk Mountains Fourteeners Trail Maintenance and Data Collection Project - $5,024

Fat City Farmers: Supporting Community and School Garden Efforts throughout the Roaring Fork Valley - $8,000

High Country News: Reporting on Energy Development in Western Colorado - $10,000

Mount Sopris Nordic Council: 2014 Spring Gulch Trail System Enhancement - $3,405

Roaring Fork Conservancy: General Operations Support - $4,000

Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV): 2014 Trail and Restoration Projects- $10,000

The Buddy Program:  Experiential Programs and Outdoor Leadership - $5,000

Thompson Divide Coalition:  To prevent oil and gas drilling in Thompson Divide - $20,000

WE-Cycle: Bike Share Ambassador Program - $4,000

Western Environmental Law Center: North Fork Valley Oil & Gas Defense Campaign - $10,000

Wilderness Workshop: Oil & Gas Defense - $15,000

TOTAL - $114,029

Applications for fall 2014 funding are due October 1, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. Those interested in receiving an application can email Matthew Hamilton at mhamilton@aspensnowmass.com.

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The employee-funded, -founded and -directed Environment Foundation has awarded $2.5 million to 425 diverse local environmental projects since its inception in December 1997. Almost 1,800 employees per year contribute to the foundation directly from their paychecks. For additional information about the Environment Foundation visit theenvironmentfoundation.org.